The Mendoza Family’s Father’s Day Tradition
What better way to spend your Father’s Day than with a light run around Harlem? This year was my family’s third consecutive year running together on Father’s Day with Harlem Run and we had a great time. How did this tradition come about? It’s simple; we live for the competition and love to get a good workout in!
Growing up, my father, Julio G. Mendoza, instilled many important values into my brother, sister and I through his love of sports. Coming from Cuba, he picked up a baseball bat at the ripe age of five, and the rest was history. His athleticism and passion led him to a baseball scholarship at Queens College, where he was a standout outfielder and scholar.
Let’s fast-forward to Julio having three kids. Trust me, if you ever have the pleasure of meeting him, within minutes or maybe even seconds you’ll be well aware of his three kids and just how beautiful, intelligent, and athletic they all are. I am so blessed to have had a father push me to become the best possible student-athlete I could be.
Julio didn’t know much about soccer, but he did understand the commitment and discipline it took to be a college athlete. He constantly reinforced the time- management, perseverance, and dedication I needed to have in order to earn a scholarship, and without him, I never would have been able to attend St. John’s University and play collegiate Women’s Soccer. There I was able to become a 2X All-BIG EAST player, NSCAA/ Adidas Northeast All-American.
Julio would love to tell you all about it if you gave him the time. Without him, I wouldn’t have had that amazing college experience or have learned so many life lessons.
Back to how I found the amazing group that is Harlem Run. About two and a half years ago I ran into a girlfriend right after she had participated in the Thursday Night Run with Harlem Run. At the time I had been running on my own, but there wasn’t accountability or any social, competitive or community aspects to my running regiment. I had only been living in Harlem for about a year.
I decided to show up the following Monday, and the rest was history. I very rarely miss Monday Nights with Harlem Run— it’s become routine for me. Harlem Run fosters many important values that are important to me as well: community, family, and volunteer work. The mission that Alison has created through meaningful conversations, charity and wellness programs is truly something special, that I’m grateful to be a part of it, even if it’s in a small way.
As I mentioned, what brings my family and I to Harlem and Harlem Run is simple-- we Mendoza’s love to compete. The past few years, every single one of us beat our previous times. Also, I’d like to add that we all finished a mile for the past two years in UNDER 9 minutes. This includes my father (56 years old), brother (25 years old), sister (21 years old) and myself (29 years old). This year we were excited to run together on Father's Day for the third year in a row, and the event did not disappoint! We had an amazing time celebrating a meaningful day in our family ... I hope everyone else was able to enjoy a great day with your dad, kids, or any important male figures in your life!